Gladiolus murielae

John Grimshaw
Fri, 09 Mar 2007 07:13:28 PST
Jim & Tony have raised questions about this attractive plant.

Its name is due to a tangle of taxonomy. If the segregate genus Acidanthera 
was maintained (which it certainly should not be) for these white-flowered 
Gladiolus, the name would be Acidanthera bicolor (which is what most 
catalogues still call it), a name given in 1844. But there already is a 
Gladiolus bicolor, so that is not an option when the species is transferred 
to the genus Gladiolus. The rules of taxonomy then require that the first 
name validly published at specific level in that genus be used: this is 
Gladiolus murielae Kelway. I am presuming that this is Kelway of Kelway's 
nursery in Somerset, famous for peonies and irises - thus the 'major bulb 
company' mentioned by Jim. It was described in the 'Gardener's Chronicle' in 
1932, as many such plants were, often with less than a modern-standard 
description etc, but still valid.

To answer Tony's question, Goldblatt says that the original collecting 
locality, where a Mr Erskine found it, is unknown. (Muriel was Mrs 
Erskine.). In northern Ethiopia it has been found up to 2090 m asl: this is 
not high enough for serious frost that would penetrate the ground.

It may well be that the 'murielae' version of Acidanthera bicolor, to lapse 
into catalogue-speak, was better suited to garden cultivation than older 
stocks, hence its rapid rise to enduring popularity. It is certainly not an 
early-flowering plant in this country, but that does not mean to say that it 
isn't earlier to flower than other forms that it has now eclipsed.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

Easter Monday 9 April, Arboretum Weekend 15-16 September
Gates open 1pm, last entry 4 pm

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim McKenney" <>
To: "'Pacific Bulb Society'" <>
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2007 2:33 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Tropical African Gladiolus

> Tony Avent asked: "G. murielae is marginal here and we will loose it in a
> cold (below 10
> degrees F) winter.  Do you have any idea where in the range the material
> in the trade came from?  Low or high elevations?  I've often wondered if
> there couldn't be material found with better winter hardiness."
> I don't know the answers to Tony's questions, but they remind me of
> something I read recently. Somewhere recently I read that what we now call
> Galdiolus murielae was introduced by a major bulb company in 1928.

> That does not sit well with me, although part of the answer may have to do
> with just what you consider G. murielae to be.

> Already in the nineteenth century the plant then known as Acidanthera
> bicolor was in cultivation, and for most of my life the commercial 
> material
> has been called Acidanthera bicolor murielae.

> There is another sort of evidence that there have been multiple
> introductions. Most older books, in discussing these plants, mention that
> they are very late blooming. Is that because writers were simply repeating
> the experience reported by growers in comparatively cooler northwestern
> Europe? Or is it because so many of the early American books were based on
> experience on New England, where the summers are shorter?

> I've often wondered if the introduction and eventual popularity of stocks
> under the name murielae was occasioned by an earlier bloom time.

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